It's official: Carlos Freitas has officially signed on as the sporting director at Fiorentina. The 49 year old Portuguese executive, most recently of Metz in France, is well-regarded within the football community, and has particularly close ties to Portugal and Holland. The board will confirm his appointment next week, but he's already moved in and started working. If you're interested, here's video of him and Corvino hanging out. Martin Jørgensen, meanwhile, has confirmed that he'll be returning to Fiorentina in some capacity, but isn't yet sure exactly what his role will be; the Viola have reportedly offered to make him their UEFA ambassador and head of northern European scouting.
The Salvatore Sirigu rumors are back in full force. It sounds like Inter Milan are currently leading the chase, with Fiorentina in second. The heir apparent to Gianluigi Buffon, Sirigu says he won't make his decision until after he's done with his international duties. Hellas Verona DS Filippo Fusco says that there's no set price yet for Viola target Pierluigi Gollini, although the press has thrown around a figure approaching €10 million. Udinese goalkeeper Simone Scuffet has also resurfaced as a person of interest. Closer to home, Corvino wants Luca Lezzerini to win the job as #2, whether that be to Ciprian Tătăruşanu or someone else. Fellow youngster Giacomo Satalino says, through his agent, that he's happy to stay at Fiorentina and develop, rather than bolt for pastures new and a big payday.
As Torino solidify their push for Nenad Tomović, whom they consider a perfect Kamil Glik replacement (no, really), it's clear that Fiorentina are in dire need of central defenders even if he stays, with Gonzalo Rodríguez and Davide Astori the only other ones on the roster. The top target right now seems to be Juventus outcast Martín Cáceres. Fresh off an Achilles injury, he should be ready for next season, and Juve seems willing to sell him for about €2 million, which would be a steal for a versatile and really talented player. Although Inter and Roma are also sniffing around, word is that Viola representatives were in Milan to meet with his agent, and are in touch with the Bianconeri as well.
There are, of course, myriad other options. Genoa's Sebastien de Maio is back in the sights. Rising Crotone star Gian Marco Ferrari was briefly considered a target, but it seems that Genoa are closing in on him instead. Benfica have received an offer for Lisandro López from Lanús, but the player wants to stay in Europe. Reppublica thinks the Gigliati are interested in Inter's Andrea Ranocchia, currently at Sampdoria, and we've also heard that Valencia's Rúben Vezo is the top defensive target in this window. Finally, Roman Neustatder, currently with Russia at the Euros, is available on a Bosman and would be a good low-cost option for depth.
It looks like Juve rejects are getting a second chance in Florence, as veteran leftback Simone Padoin has also cropped up as a major target. Originally linked with Cagliari, it seems that €2.5 million is enough to pry him loose from Turin, with Fiorentina waiting in the wings should the deal with the Sardinians fall through. Former Corvino protegee Ibrahima Mbaye, a 21 year old rightback with Bologna, is another person of interest, although his agent says that the Rossoblu are determined to fend off Fiorentina, Schalke, and Wolfsburg. And finally, Fiorentina are monitoring Inter rightback Danilo d'Ambrosio.
There's plenty of drama with the current Viola midfield corps. Milan Badelj's numbskulled agent Maksim Joksimovic is again complaining that the club aren't paying him, betraying an inexplicable understanding of the basic structures of football, but experts agree that the Croatian international isn't going anywhere. Ditto that for Borja Valero, whom Roma are lusting after. Both player and agent have said, in so many words, "Nah." Matías Vecino is another dude who's turned down interest from another club, as he and Paulo Sousa have both told the club that the Uruguayan should stay put amidst Napoli interest. He will report late to Moena, which is sure to start another round of rumors, but it's just due to pre-approved time off following his underwhelming international work. Finally, wunderkind Abdou Diakhate is likely to leave on loan next season, with Avellino and Vicenza both trying to pick him up for a year.
However, there are still plenty of players Fiorentina are "monitoring." Bologna youngster Amadou Diawara, who's a well-known Corvino favorite, has attracted attention from all over, but DS Roberto Bigon says there are no offers, and new manager Marco di Vaio flatly denies that he's for sale, and he's gotten in some trouble with the FIGC over his recent switch in agents. Even so, Sevilla are preparing a bid, and Valencia director Jesus Garcia Pitarch has been spotted in Italy, presumably to close a deal for him. Corvino is also working on bringing the kid in, though, so don't rule him out. Miguel Almirón (no relation to Viola legend Sergio) is rail-thin 22 year old Paraguayan playmaker plying his trade with Lanús, who would make him available for €4 million. It's a cheap price for a player being called the new Banega, but it seems that Inter lead Fiorentina and Valencia in the race for his signature.
Alternatively, there's 19 year old Croatian Marko Rog of Dinamo Zagreb. As a young, technically gifted Balkan player, he certainly fits the Corvino mold, although the Plavi are holding out for €6-7 million, which is a bit steep. Novara's Paolo Faragò is a cheaper option--he should only cost about €3.5 million--and the Viola are thought to be in pole position for his signature, ahead of Catania and Bologna. PSV's Davy Propper is another youthful possibility, while countryman Tonny Vilhena of Feyenoord (currently loaned to Olympiacos) is another option. Hellas man Federico Viviani is a long-term target closer to home, though Fusco says they haven't set a valuation on him yet. Aston Villa's Carlos Sánchez, nicknamed la Roca, is a more veteran option, and more of a pure destroyer. Fiorentina look set to miss out on Udinese-owned Pescara man Valerio Verre (Napoli again pipping Fiorentina to a highly-rated youth prospect), and the same goes for Mirko Valdifiori, who looks likely to move the opposite direction. Finally, it seems that Sousa wants to bring Sassuolo engine Simone Missiroli aboard, but both club and player are resisting any attempt.
Meanwhile, the Cristian Tello saga drags on. Fiorentina want him on loan for another year, which isn't a problem, but getting Barcelona to drop the fee to redeem the loan from €8 million to €6.5 million seems to be a stumbling block. The sides are going back and forth endlessly, much to Tello's frustration. He's training with the Blaugrana for now, which may not be a good sign, and there's supposed to be a final decision this week.
Should he leave, there's no shortage of alternates. Emanuele Giaccherini has been the source of rumors for the past several weeks, and we've got a full roundup here. In the wake of Miralem Pjanic's defection to Juve, Roma want to hold onto Adem Ljajić, but the player seems keen on a return to Florence, and the club may let him if they can't resolve a few contractual issues. Torino is also lurking in the wings, though. 21 year old San Lorenzo winger Héctor Villalba is the newest name to crop up. A pure pace merchant, he's got some tricky feet as well, and his price tag (around €5 million) makes him very appealing indeed. He's also stated that he plans to continue his career in Italy, heightening the Viola interest in him. Also, he's nicknamed Tito, so you know that he's a righteous dude.
Slovenia and PAOK winger Róbert Mak has cropped up as a man being watched from Florence, as has Inter flyer Jonathan Biabiany. 19 year old number 10 Gaetano Castrovilli is a solid hipster pick; as a U18 international and star of the Bari Primavera, he's obscure enough to add some cred to anyone looking to impress with their knowledge of Fiorentina transfer targets. Finally, Joao Teixera has announced that he's moving to Porto, and Samp are lining up a move for Dennis Praet, which is totally going to work. Really.
We've covered the Josip Iličić--Leicester City rumors here, so catch yourself up. Khouma Babacar, though, is also tipped for a move to England (mostly by British sources), with Everton, Crystal Palace, and West Ham all interested. The Senegalese striker's agent Patrick Bastianelli has arranged for a meeting with Corvino this week to help determine his client's future, but it's all rather hard to figure out right now.
Although Fiorentina are unlikely to buy a striker without offloading at least one more, the press are still finding all sorts of names to link to Florence. Jonathan Calleri, who was as of last week Fiorentina's "top target," is now thought to be more of a secondary target especially at his €9 million price. Tottenham are expected to present São Paulo and/or Deportiveo Maldonado with an offer soon. Palermo star Franco Vázquez, meanwhile, is attracting interest from West Bromwich Albion, although Maurizio Zamparini may have already priced them out the race. Southampton Senegalese wide forward Sadio Mané is a 19 year old who, according to Rai Toscana, is Corvino's ultimate dream signing, and seemed under the radar enough to be a possibility until word got out that Liverpool are considering a €40 million bid; so long to that dream. The powerful Colombian striker Roger Martínez, a 21 year old with Racing in Argentina, seems a more realistic idea. And, if you want to think a little bigger, consider Juan Iturbe. Fresh off a loan with Bournemouth, Roma are thought to be looking to offload him again, with Fiorentina willing to take the Paraguayan star off their hands.